When it was released in 1986, David Byrne's film True Stories was besieged by many of the same criticisms that would dog the Coen Brothers in the years to come that it was patronizing to small-town America, that it valued postmodern style over substance. Given the benefit of hindsight, the Talking Heads singer's faux-travelogue of fictional Virgil, Texas, actually seems ahead of its time. Starring John Goodman as a lovelorn country-singing computer technician, Spalding Gray as a town leader who hasn't spoken to his wife in 15 years, and Pops Staples as the friendly neighborhood voodoo practitioner, the film is a glimpse into weird Americana. While there's an ironic tone to the proceedings, Byrne's satire is gentle, and he's more intent on celebrating small-town idiosyncrasies than mocking rubes. True Stories rarely goes for obvious laughs, but its arch sensibility has proven to be quite influential. To celebrate the True Stories' 25th Anniversary, Byrne screens the film for Sketchfest and discusses its creation and legacy. Later in the evening, Peaches Christ hosts Idol Worship: An Evening with Cloris Leachman, the Oscar-winning actress who became a brassy comedy icon thanks to her roles on The Mary Tyler Moore Show and in Mel Brooks' High Anxiety, which also screens alongside an onstage conversation between Cloris and Peaches, who describes herself as "very, very nervous" about it.
Sat., Feb. 5, 5 p.m., 2011
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